2009-10 Policy Address by Chief Executive (14)

E. Democracy and Governance

Constitutional Development

112. After deliberating on my report, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) decided in December 2007 that Hong Kong may implement universal suffrage for electing the Chief Executive in 2017 and for electing all Members of the Legislative Council in 2020.  The decision also stipulated the requirements for amending both the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council elections in 2012.  Not only has the NPCSC's decision set a clear timetable, it has also established a clear direction for the future constitutional development of Hong Kong.  The NPCSC's decision is the constitutional requirement which we must comply with in handling the issue of Hong Kong's future constitutional development.  I believe that different sectors of the community would concur with this.

113. In accordance with the NPCSC's decision in 2007, the current-term Government is required to put forth amendments to the electoral methods for electing the Chief Executive and forming the Legislative Council in 2012. We plan to commence extensive public consultations on this issue next month.  We will listen closely to the views of different sectors of the community with an accommodating and open attitude.  On this basis, we will put forth the relevant motions to the Legislative Council.  We hope that the final version of the motions would be passed by a two-thirds majority in the Legislative Council, so as to roll forward the democratic development of Hong Kong's constitutional arrangements.

Civil Service Pay Adjustment and Grade Structure Reviews

114. The civil service is the cornerstone of good governance in Hong Kong.  The pay cut for civil servants in the upper salary bands, and the follow-up on the three grade structure review (GSR) reports, especially the one on the disciplined services grades, have been in the spotlight over the past few months.  In dealing with the GSR, the Executive Council will consider all relevant factors, including public opinion. It will draw up a package which is objective, balanced and reasonable having regard to the principle of prudent use of public resources.

115. It is understandable for civil servants to seek a better remuneration package.  I believe that civil service staff unions will bear in mind the mission to serve the public and ensure the smooth operation of society in the process, and that they will continue to maintain a dialogue with the management through the existing consultation channels.

National Education

116. To celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China, we organised a variety of celebratory and education activities for Hong Kong people to share the joy and better understand our country's latest developments.

117. The Government spares no effort in promoting national education, which is a long-term mission.  We will strengthen the elements on China in various key learning areas under the primary and secondary curricula.  We will also organise Mainland exchange activities for students as part of the national education programme.  By aligning experiential learning with curriculum objectives and content, we hope to deepen national education.

118. Last year, we devoted additional resources to national education, and have since rolled out various initiatives. Championed by the Government, the national education platform "Passing on the Torch" was established early this year. In this school year, the Government will subsidise 37 000 students to join various Mainland exchange programmes. Through this platform, we establish close co-operation with voluntary groups.  We have co-ordinated 45 exchange activities organised by NGOs, benefiting over 20 000 students.  Also, we have included national education as one of the priority themes for the Quality Education Fund.  In 2009, the Fund approved various activities, including projects to enhance learning effectiveness in national education and study tours to the Mainland.

(To be continued)

Ends/Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Issued at HKT 12:30